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How To Use This Guide

This guide provides a roadmap on how to realize a HighWaterLine in your own community, as well as some ideas for building community resilience to climate change at the local and regional level. We recommend you begin by reading the intentions of the HighWaterLine and then review the navigation to understand the breadth and depth of this project. You can also learn more about other iterations at HighWaterLine.

Once you are ready to undertake the project, work from the timeline, utilizing other portions of the guide as support and reference as you move through the project. At any point during the process, we welcome you to reach out for help or clarification.

This guide, while specifically written for HighWaterLine, may be useful for other creative projects. We would love to hear from you about projects that emerge from this guide, please share your work and photos with us!
















HighWaterLine _ Bristol_ Hotwells 9_11.jpg

A Letter From Eve & Heidi

We are excited that you are here and that you are interested in creating a HighWaterLine (or curious to learn more about this interdisciplinary initiative.) We worked really hard to bring the HighWaterLine to life in all of its incarnations. We were also incredibly lucky to collaborate with amazing communities from whom we learned an immense volume of new information.

We believe this is a great project for other communities, so we want to provide you a guide to help you realize a successful HighWaterLine. What’s in it for us? (Why give it away?) We’d love to see HighWaterLine happen around the world – in a lot of different styles, and we would love to see it make a real difference in every community in which it takes place.

HighWaterLine is at its core, an art project. The intention of the artwork is to facilitate much needed conversations and creative solutions around climate change. Each HighWaterLine is different and responds to the specific needs of the community creating it. We hope that it will be a galvanizing force for your community, as well as reflect the personality of your community.

While we have provided a lot of information, please note that unforeseen opportunities and challenges may arise that will shift your actual timeline, how you realize the artwork and more. Please view this as a general roadmap for creating a HighWaterLine and a not step by step instruction manual.

We are grateful for the support we received in bringing this Guide to life, including funding from The Compton Foundation & Invoking the Pause as well as the tireless support from community coordinators as well as editor Pamela Allen.

Please contact us directly if you have any questions or are interested in having us consult on a HighWaterLine in your community.

HWLG Letter


HighWaterLine is an art project.

HighWaterLine is grounded in scientific data.

HighWaterLine localizes and personalizes climate change.

HighWaterLine creates a new space for real conversations on climate change impacts as well as viable regional solutions.

Meeting people where they are, both physically and philosophically is essential in all aspects of realizing a HighWaterLine.

Listening is as important as sharing.

HWLG Intentions


HighWaterLine began with curiosity, Eve’s curiosity about what climate change would do to her own city – New York. She came across The Metro East Coast Assessment, a report that examined the expected changes in New York City’s coastline due to climate change. The report talked repeatedly about how coastal areas within ten feet above sea level, an area historically expected to flood once every hundred years, would become inundated by flooding and storm surge as frequently as once every 4 years by the 2080’s. She decided that while looking at a map gave some understanding of this data, walking that line, and in fact marking that line would be a very different experience.



In 2007, the HighWaterLine project was born. With blue chalk and a sports field marker, Eve drew the 10-foot above sea level line over 70 miles of coastline, along the way having conversations with people she encountered. The project lasted six months and the conversations were about climate change – what did people know, what had they experienced to date, what role could we all play in making positive strides towards increased sustainability and building resilience locally.


Along the way she passed out Action Guides, which included steps that people could take to mitigate climate change in personal and community aspects of their lives, as well as methods for engaging with the greater community working on climate change.

Following the initial HighWaterLine | NYC, Eve was invited to reproduce the project in other communities. Knowing the importance of having the project enacted by local residents, she began designing methods for other communities to re-enact the project independently.


In the summer of 2012, Heidi Quante, an interdisciplinary human rights & environmental artist, approached Eve about collaborating on HighWaterLine as a new community organizing initiative. The idea was to bring the HighWaterLine to other communities vulnerable to sea level rise and flooding, starting with Miami and the UK, and amplify the original artwork with community trainings and workshops. In 2013 with generous support from the Compton FoundationInvoking the PauseThe Kresge FoundationThe Miami FoundationThe Whitman Institute, and 11th Hour Project, Heidi moved to Miami to collaborate with diverse communities. She led a series of  workshops over the course of 4 months. In this expanded iteration of the HighWaterLine, co-led by Miami residents Marta Viciedo and Irvans Augustin, Miami residents demarcated 26 miles of potential future level flooding and storm surge throughout the neighborhoods of Miami over the course of three days. (See more at HighWaterLine | Miami).

This new implementation of the HighWaterLine then traveled to the United Kingdom, where U.K. Coordinator Isobel Tarr (assisted by Anna Haydock-Wilson) engaged the people of Bristol via workshops – to discuss how climate change would impact their beloved community. Then with support from Invisible Dust,  Arts Council England and the LUSH Foundation, the people of Bristol realized their own HighWaterLine by demarcating 32 miles of potential flooding in the streets of Bristol over a period of 12 days. (See more at HighWaterLine | Bristol).

Additionally, HighWaterLine | Delray Beach was created with a local team of organizers and artists in consultation with Heidi and Eve. Their experiences throughout this collaboration led to the writing and publication of this guide, which has helped other communities undertake their own HighWaterLine.

HWLG History

Why Art?

Art has the capacity to communicate in ways that scientific reports or media coverage cannot. It can connect on a visceral and emotional level. When art is produced in public, by people living in the community, it becomes personal and relatable. When scientific data is translated into art that reveals how a community will be impacted by climate change, the art provides the community a way to visualize the tangible impacts.

Art has the capacity to provide entry for everyone – regardless of language, socio-economic background, cultural identity – we all understand the act of making a mark.

Drawing a line in the urban environment, while simple in nature, is a powerful act. It delineates, demarcates and defines. It provides a visceral sense of place and can bring concepts about the future into the present with great force.

HWLG Why Art


HighWaterLine is licensed as a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) project. This means that you are welcome to use the guide to create your own HighWaterLine or, use it as inspiration for a similar project (others have included marking gerrymandered districts or areas under a particular threat). We ask that in that case, you include this in your publications and promotions (choose either “informed” or “inspired” and please retain the links):

“This work was informed or inspired by the HighWaterLine project. You can learn more about the process through the Guide to Creative Community Engagement.”

If you are interested in having your project as part of the HighWaterLine website as a project undertaken in partnership with Eve and Heidi, please contact us for more information.

HWLG Attribution



You are welcome to use this guide to make your own HighWaterLine happen in your community. If you are interested in hiring us to consult on the project, we can provide you with the tools to create a successful project. How do we do this? We can provide assistance from the start to post-drawing the line, including:

  • language for and feedback on your grant applications

  • assistance on budgeting

  • monthly, bi-weekly and weekly calls (more frequent as the project progresses)

  • strategic planning

  • developing a realistic timeline

  • workshop design and facilitation models

  • course correcting throughout the entire project

We hope to hear from you soon!

HWLG Consult
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